The barbell row is one of the best exercises that will build strong and firm shoulders and biceps. However, doing a barbell row is not an easy workout to do. Given that, some mistakes cannot be avoided.
The barbell row is not an everyday workout that bodybuilder does. It is one of the best exercises that many are doing. However, not everyone does it in the right way. And still, some people don’t fully understand the benefits of doing barbell rows.
If you have already started a workout routine, you can still consider doing the barbell row. It is an excellent add-on to your exercises for stable and firm shoulders and back. When you have strong shoulders, it will be easier for you to do other workouts involving heavy lifting.
The muscles involved in the barbell row are your back, abs, arms and hips. Building these muscles will give you a balanced shape. For instance, a barbell row makes your upper back or the shoulder-blades at your back a V-shape. It also involves your traps, rear shoulders and the rest of the muscles in your upper back. For the lower back, which is your lower spine, your muscles in that area need to workout. In doing the barbell row, you will need to avoid having disc injuries. The gravity tries to bend your back by pulling the bar down. However, resisting the force strengthens your lower back muscles.
Another muscle that gets worked out with a barbell row is your abs. Your abs muscles are essential to strengthen, which will support your lower back. Then your hips will also benefit from doing barbell row. This workout gives dynamic and static contractions. When you raise your torso to get the bar moving off the floor, muscles in your hips are working. They also provide support to your lower back. The most apparent muscle that works during the barbell row is your arms. Muscles in your forearm are essential for daily work. Your movements always involve your forearm, especially when lifting.
How to do it?
Barbell row, unlike other workouts, focuses their strength and building muscle mass to your whole back. By using more massive weights over time, this will increase the force that will make your shoulders firmer and stronger.
If you want to build your muscles in your shoulder-back, we have here the natural and necessary steps for the barbell row.
Step 1: Your starting position is standing with your mid-foot under the bar. This is what we call a medium stance.
Step 2: Your next position is bending over as you grab the barbell with your palms down and a medium grip.
Step 3: Then, unlock your knees while keeping your hips high. While doing this, lift your chest and keep your back straight.
Step 4: After doing that, pull the bar against your lower chest.
Step 5: Return the bar to the floor. Practice breathing and straighten your back.
Step 6: Hold this position for a few seconds and continue with repetitions.
Keep in mind that barbell rows are full body and compound exercise that provides a workout to your upper back, lower back, hips and arms. In doing a barbell row, it also gives you a muscular back and bigger biceps. This workout is your preparation before doing squat, bench press and deadlift.
Variations for Row Workout
Though it is considered as one of the best and most effective exercises, barbell row has its limitations. If you want to have less stress on your shoulders and back, you can have other activities aside from barbell row exercise.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
Many choose to do the one-arm dumbbell row because it improves strength in your back and biceps. It also exercises a good grip, especially those with smaller hands and a weaker grip.
How to do it: You can perform this workout with a knee while your hand is placed on the same side of the bench. Then, put your other foot on the floor to reduce the demand on your lower back.
It is a good alternative for the barbell row workout. It has the same stance, but instead of pulling the barbell up to your body, you will pull your body to a bar. This workout is included in the training routine of beginners.
Chest Supported Row
You can do this workout using a machine or a bench set to a low incline with dumbbells on both hands. If you do the chest supported row, unlike the barbell row, it will limit your movement while using some weights. It is an advantage, especially if you want to give your low-back a rest.
What’s good in doing the barbell row?
Like other workouts, the barbell row provides some goodness in your body. If you can do it properly, you can enjoy the following:
Since the barbell row targets your upper back muscles, it also gives excellent support to your shoulder-back. It provides strength imbalance between your chest and your back, which your shoulders will hunch forward.
Barbell row trains your muscles in your shoulder blades to do great while doing other shoulder workouts like the bench press. The more stabilize your shoulders, the more strength you can generate in your arms and chest. It also provides a platform to press the weights and decreases the risk of a shoulder injury.
Firm Upper Body
If you can observe, a thicker, broader and more muscular upper back can result in you having a V-shaped torso. Barbell row also provides total body strength that will prevent your spinal from breaking during deadlift and squat. It means that you can carry loads with better form and less injury to your back. It gives more strength, muscles and power from head to toe.
Common Mistakes with Barbell Row
You cannot get the benefits from the barbell row if you are doing it wrong. To avoid these mistakes, we noted down the common improper way of doing it.
Don’t do the “bouncing” stance.
It is a big no-no if you are doing the bent-over barbell row. It’s typically the result of using a weight that’s too heavy, forcing you to bounce up and down to generate enough momentum to move the load. You may think that this is the best technique, but it is plain cheating.
How to avoid: Use a lighter weight for bent over row barbell. Performing the exercise with a weight you can control will more effectively recruit your back muscles. It will also give you the momentum for this barbell row form. But a small bounce can improve your lift. Since your biceps have a limiting factor, a little bounce can help you overcome this weakness. It will allow you to lift a weight and challenge your back muscles.
Never reach the 45-degree angle.
Another thing to avoid when doing a barbell row is getting your torso at a 45-degree angle. If you are doing this, then you are doing this wrong. It happens a lot when you lack core strength, or the weight is too heavy.
How to avoid: Before doing the barbell row, build a stronger core that will prevent you from making the 45-degree angle. But if you have a strong core and still doing this angle, you will need to place a plate on your lower back to maintain the proper position. It is the technique to have an appropriate posture during the exercise.
Avoid Flaring of your Elbows
It is unavoidable that your elbows will shift while doing the barbell row. This is because of the movement of the bar, forward and in front of your midfoot. This stance increases the amount of stress to your lower back. Also, it causes pain to your shoulder.
How to avoid: Row the bar in a vertical line over your midfoot to just below your chest and make sure your elbows are at about a 45-degree angle with your body.
Rounding Position for your Back and your Neck
While doing a barbell row, avoid doing some unnecessary movements like rounding your back that places your spine in a dangerous position. It will increase your risk of injury. Also, your neck position is essential. Looking too far up or down can throw the rest of your spine out of whack, making it difficult to hold a safe and stable torso position as you row the heavyweight.
How to avoid: Brace your abs as if you’re about to take a punch with your back in a neutral position. You can use a lighter weight if you can’t maintain this position. For your neck, align it in a straight line with your back. The easiest way to find this position is to focus your eyes on the ground a few feet away in front of your body and give yourself a double chin.
What can we say?
Indeed, the barbell row is a crucial workout to prepare your shoulder back before doing the lifting. Three essential factors will lead you to perform it properly.
You’ll need to have compression, range of motion and contraction. Compression is something that’ll allow you to squeeze the muscles against a significant load. It’ll also give your muscles some connection with each other. But you’ll need to handle considerable weight to achieve the level of compression required.
Range of motion means you’ll allow your muscles to work in longer intervals. Some variations of barbell row provide rip from your body, and the other end of the repetitions can get your elbows back.
Also, you’ll need contraction that will allow you to feel your back contract. It’ll be a result of your biceps and triceps. It will also take time and practice, but when you master it, it’ll make a massive difference in terms of results.
But then again, doing the barbell row properly, it’ll keep your lower back neutral. There’s no squeezing on your spinal discs. Also, never hold the bar in the air between repetitions or else your back will be forced. Instead, rest the bar on the floor between repetitions. Set your lower back in neutral before your next barbell row repetitions.
To quickly achieve your barbell row, there are ways to simplify them, but try not to cheat. The techniques are lifting heavier weights by using your hips, but you will still need your upper-back to do most of the work. If your torso rises above horizontal, the weight will not be easy to lift. If you lower it, it’ll work best to your upper back. Therefore, the barbell row focuses on strengthening your shoulder back, not your hips or lower back.